WVU football: Bailey bound for next level
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- An offense that was already set to lose its starting quarterback, running back, receiver, center and left and right guard will now be without a second receiver next season.
West Virginia star receiver Stedman Bailey told reporters Monday he'll skip his fifth year in 2013 and prepare for the NFL Draft following the Pinstripe Bowl.
In addition to Bailey, quarterback Geno Smith, receiver Tavon Austin, running back Shawne Alston, left guard Josh Jenkins, center Joe Madsen and right guard Jeff Braun are all seniors. Bailey is longtime friends with Smith, who was his quarterback in high school, and has become about as close to Austin.
Smith, Austin and Bailey were part of the 2009 recruiting class. Bailey admitted that played a large role in his decision.
"I kind of felt it was only right to go out with them," Bailey said. "I also think at this point my stock probably can't get any higher and I knew I'd have a new quarterback next year and Tavon won't be there on the field and defenses would probably key on me and try to just cover me and I could have my numbers go down from what I did this year."
Coach Dana Holgorsen, who Sunday night watched former players Michael Crabtree of San Francisco and Wes Welker of New England catch passes in the 49ers-Patriots game, said he "fully" supported Bailey's decision.
"He's a good football player, he's durable, he's smooth, he's got great hand-eye coordination," said Holgorsen, who counts Crabtree and Jacksonville's Justin Blackmon as receivers who left school early. "I'm curious to see how he tests out in the combine."
Despite a sprained ankle that limited him for three full games,
Bailey has caught 106 passes for school-record totals of 1,501 yards and 23 touchdowns.
The touchdown total is the highest ever by a player in a Bowl Championship Series conference and four shy of tying the NCAA's all-time mark.
He was first-team all-Big 12 and first-team All-America, as voted by the Football Writers Association of America.
Bailey, who said he's been told he's projected to be a third-round pick in April's draft, also has a month-old son. He said his son's future became a large part of his decision.
"I have a family now and he pretty much comes first for me," Bailey said. "It was hard thinking about it. Obviously, I have another year here and I would like to do all I can to help those guys next year, but this is the best decision for me."
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HOLGORSEN finally confirmed the second change he's made to the coaching staff since the end of the regular season.
He said linebackers coach Keith Patterson is now the defensive coordinator after working as the co-coordinator during the season. Joe DeForest, who had been the defensive coordinator, is now simply the associate head coach and safeties coach.
"Instead of having two guys share the responsibility, I think it's important for one guy to take that lead," said Holgorsen, who previously fired cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts.
Patterson has been a co-coordinator at Tulsa and a coordinator at Pitt. He was briefly employed as the coordinator at Arkansas State last winter before Holgorsen hired him away a month after he'd hired DeForest.
Patterson was moved from the coaching box to the field late in the season while DeForest was moved from the field to the box. Patterson signaled in play calls from the field, but said he was not the coordinator. Holgorsen said he made the change Dec. 2, the morning after WVU ended the regular season with a win against Kansas.
Patterson will be the coordinator for the bowl game and said his defense will be multiple and have noticeable differences for the Dec. 29 game.
"We're constantly striving to become better," he said. "I'm not waiting until next year. I want you to see some improvements against Syracuse."
A source told the Charleston Daily Mail last week the contracts and salaries won't change for Patterson and DeForest. Patterson makes $350,000 on a two-year contract while DeForest makes $500,000 on a three-year contract.
DeForest didn't speak to reporters Monday.
"Joe DeForest is very, very, very valuable to our coaching staff and to our football program because he wears many hats and always has," Holgorsen said. "He's a tremendous football coach who's focused a lot on safeties - and we have two pretty good safeties playing pretty good football.
"We're excited about what he's doing with them and that he brings a bunch of experience from a recruiting stand point, a special teams standpoint, an associate head coach standpoint and a next-guy-in-charge standpoint. That will continue next year."
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HOLGORSEN said graduate assistant Andrew Magee will coach cornerbacks for the bowl. Holgorsen said a replacement for Roberts should be in place after the bowl and that he and Patterson will work together to find the right person.
"He's got to be willing to learn this system," Patterson said of the eventual hire. "It doesn't really matter what he knew from his past. We want to get people familiar with what we do. Some people get set in their ways, but they've got to be willing to change and grow as a coach and think outside the box."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.